Grab Your Life Jacket: Scientists Say Oceans Once Rose 10 Feet in a Few Years

Sheets of blinding rain rolled over downtown Miami this morning and, as they passed, it was easy to remember just how close to sea level most of the Magic City lies. Five minutes of rain left pools deep enough to swallow Jeeps on NW 2nd Avenue outside Riptide Central.

That's why a new report in the journal Nature is a bit worrisome for those of us who don't fancy a daily kayak jaunt to the office.

The authors -- four scientists from Mexico and Germany -- studied a fossil reef near Cancun and found that sometime after the last Ice Age, the oceans rose really high, really fast. The reefs suggested that the oceans jumped by 6 to 10 feet in just fifty years, fueled by fast-melting ice caps.

Sound familiar? "The potential for sustained rapid ice loss and catastrophic sea-level rise in the near future is confirmed by our discovery," the authors write, according to the New York Times.

If it's true, it's some seriously bad news for us. Miami's elevation averages somewhere around 6 feet above sea level, and is much lower than that in many neighborhoods. Check out the photo above for one illustration of what an extra six feet of ocean might do to all that prime Biscayne Boulevard real estate (and read this piece for a look at how they made the illustration.)

Anyone else want to go in on some shares in the galoshes industry?

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink